Thursday, July 18, 2024

Tokyo booster dose: Rahi Sarnobat clinches World Cup title in elite field | More sports News

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PUNE: With less than a month to go for the Tokyo Olympics, Rahi Sarnobat, 30, gave a glimpse of her preparation by clinching gold in the women’s 25m pistol event at the ISSF World Cup in Osijek, Croatia, on Monday.
The Kolhapur shooter, who will be representing the country in the same event at Tokyo, shot 39 in the final to seal the first place. She was just a point away to equal the world record and two from breaking it. The silver went to France’s Euro champion Mathilde Lamolle (31 points), while Russia’s Vitalina Batsarashkina shot 28 to clinch the bronze.
Another Indian in fray, Manu Bhaker, 19, finished seventh after getting eliminated second in the eight-woman final. She shot 11 points.
To give perspective to her win, Rahi defeated reigning Olympic champion Anna Korakaki of Greece (finished 5th), Rio silver medallist Monika Karsch of Germany (20th) and bronze medallist Heidi Gerber of Switzerland (32nd).
Ranked No. 2 in the world, Rahi was top seed in the event and was challenged by World No. 6 Doreen Vennekamp (Germany), Manu Bhaker (ranked 7th), Monika (ranked 8th), Veronika Major of Hungary (ranked 9th) and 10th ranked Vitalina.
Rahi shot her personal best – 591 (295 precision + 296 rapid) – to qualify second for the final. She looked unstoppable from the beginning with 5/5 in the first series. Her event has 10 series of five shots each in which the participants have to shoot as per the command and a shot is registered okay only if the shooter hits 10.2 or higher.
Rahi on Monday hit 5/5 in five series and went way beyond the reach of her competitors by the end of the sixth series with 27 hits from 30 shots. The second-ranked Mathilde was six points behind them.
The Osijek medal wasn’t a fluke, as the Indian has been walking extra mile to prepare herself as a serious medal contender at Tokyo. The Kolhapur shooter trained on paper targets during the pandemic last year. The 25m is always shot on electronic targets with green and red light to guide the shooters for shots.
“You can find out about your shortcomings in competitions and not training, so I was craving for them. Other than the European Championships, I also decided to participate in the Croatian National Championships and it helped me to get enough competition ahead of Tokyo,” Rahi told TOI after her match.
The shooter, who has always shot in the 25m pistol event, also decided to participate in the 10m air pistol event at this edition of the World Cup, which was her maiden participation at a WC in the air event.
“I always felt lazy to go and shoot at 10m range, despite knowing it would help me with the precision round. But this Samaresh (Jung) bhaiya (pistol national coach) also encouraged me to participate in 10m and it sort of helped me get into the groove,” Rahi added.
This is Rahi’s third World Cup gold. In 2013, at the Changwon World Cup, the 2012 London Games participant became the first Indian pistol shooter to clinch the yellow metal.
With the gold in Osijek, Rahi has raised expectations for a medal at Tokyo, which will begin from July 23.
Gunning For Gold
* First Indian pistol shooter to win a WC gold at Changwon, Korea, in 2013.
* Since 2013, she has won three more WC gold medals besides a silver and bronze each.
* Asian Games champion at Jakarta in 2018.
* After finishing 19th at the 2012 London Games, Rahi has qualified for her second Olympics.

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